Clemson will be without kicker Greg Huegel for the rest of the season.
The program announced Thursday that Huegel, a second-team All-ACC selection in his third season as the starter, suffered a torn ACL on a field goal attempt during practice on Wednesday evening. Coach Dabo Swinney said it was a “freak accident on the last play of practice.”
“We were in the two-minute drill, which we do at the end of every Wednesday practice. A defensive player rolled into him after his kick,” Swinney said. “He walked off the practice field and we hoped it was just a strain or a bruise, but the tests revealed a torn ACL. It is a big loss, we are talking about a two-time all-conference kicker.”
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Huegel, a Lou Groza Award semifinalist in 2016, was two-of-four on field goal attempts so far this season, including a career long 49-yarder in Saturday’s win over Louisville.
Huegel watched the team as a spectator from the stands of Memorial Stadium in 2014 before joining the program as a walk-on during the summer of 2015. After the team’s top kicker was suspended, Huegel moved to the top of the depth chart and Swinney joked that he discovered him in kicking a can in a grocery store parking lot.
Huegel, now a redshirt junior, has been the starter ever since and connected on 43-of-55 field goal tries in his career. He also has handled kickoffs for the Tigers.
With Huegel sidelined, Swinney said Alex Spence is now the starter.
“I have confidence in our kickers. Alex Spence will move up. He is in his fourth year with our program and has shown great improvement this year. He really had a good August camp,” Swinney said.
Clemson said Spence hit all four of his field goal attempts, including one from 51 yards, in the team’s Aug. 12 scrimmage at Memorial Stadium. Spence has appeared in seven games in his career and is two-for-two on extra point tries. Senior walk-on Christian Groomes now moves up to No. 2 on the depth chart. He kicked off twice in the opener vs. Kent State.
In other injury news, Swinney announced that tight end Cole Renfrow, receiver Hunter Renfrow’s younger brother, is also out for the year with a torn ACL. Huegel and Renfrow join freshman defensive end Logan Rudolph (shoulder) and junior defensive end Richard Yeargin (neck) as Tigers with season-ending injuries.
Clemson (3-0), now ranked No. 2 after beating Louisville on the road, hosts Boston College (1-2) on Saturday.
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